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					         +

         A

    WAY

OF THE

 CROSS

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    PRINKNASH ABBEY
    February 2008
www.prinknashabbey.org
              The First Station:
         Jesus is condemned to death



J
     esus is not the only one, is he?
          How many times have I condemned
     someone in my heart?
    Oh, I may have had all sorts of supposedly
good reasons for doing so – “he’s doing it
deliberately”; “she never makes any effort to be
good”; “he doesn’t seem to care”; “they’re not my
sort of people”.
    But condemnation is always based on the idea
that I, who condemn, am somehow better than the
condemned. I decide that somebody is “no good”
and, ever after, see all he or she does through the
lens of my prejudice, regardless of how it really is.
    Like Pilate, I wash my hands of all
responsibility.
    As long as I can condemn you, I do not have to
look at myself.




J  esus, grant me the grace to take care only of
   what is my business, not that of others.

And when I also suffer condemnation, let me bear
it humbly, thinking of you.

                          2
             The Second Station:
           Jesus receives his Cross



I
    t is one thing to receive the cross; it is quite
    another to endure it willingly.
         When Jesus told us that his yoke was easy
and his burden light, he wasn’t joking. But for a
yoke to be easy, comfortable, you have to put it on
properly, or it will chafe.
    “Carry the cross”, said an old mother to her
children, “and it will carry you”.




J  esus, you bore my sins with so much love.
   Grant me to bear what you send me, not with
gritted teeth, not blaming all and sundry, but with
a measure of the same love.

                         3
              The Third Station:
           Jesus falls the first time



T
      here are those who fall because they are
      careless – they couldn’t care less.
           And there are those who fall because
they care abundantly. But the sheer effort of
caring, the exhaustion caused by carrying the cross,
makes them more likely to stumble and fall, opens
them out to temptations that perhaps they have
never experienced before.




L   ord, when I fall, give me grace humbly to get
    up again.
    But give me also a deep compassion for those
who fall and disgrace themselves. Let me help
them, - gently, without patronising, perhaps
without their even noticing what I do, - to get to
their feet.

                         4
             The Fourth Station:
       Jesus meets his Blessed Mother



E
       ven in an average family, the meeting of
       mother and son, perhaps after a time of
       forced separation, can be a tender and
beautiful thing. The link that was forged in the
womb can never really be broken.
     Now imagine these two souls, Jesus and Mary,
- these hearts, inseparable in the work of salvation
and in intimacy with each other - meeting in
circumstances of utmost suffering. Yet this is the
way of God.
     Suffering is needful. Sin is “behovely”, as
Julian said, - that is, somehow necessary. God,
who could have saved the world simply by willing
it, decided instead to get involved in the mess, and
the grime, and the betrayal, of human life.




M      ary, our Mother, meet us on the journey to
       our own Calvary. At every instant, look on
us with your tender love.
     Look especially on those who are estranged
from their families, or from your Son, by sin, by
pride, or because of some wound, sustained along
the path.
     Lead us into the thicket of suffering, that we
may enter the door of life.

                         5
               The Fifth Station:
           Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus
               to carry his Cross


H    e was “roped in”, tradition suggests, perhaps
     rather unwillingly. His sons, Alexander and
Rufus, were around later to tell the tale.
    Most of us start like that: tentative, not
wanting to commit, in case this thing makes too
many demands of us.
    Besides, it was all so ghastly: blood and sweat,
beatings. How much safer just to watch, from a
distance.
    But sometimes, constraint leads to salvation.




J  esus, give me to understand that I am standing
   by you each day, beside you, in your heavy
disguise..
    Grant me the grace to be willing to be
summoned, to stand by you, even as you die.

                         6
            The Sixth Station:
      Veronica wipes the face of Jesus



A
      tall story, some say.

          Yet when I wipe away the sweat and
tears, the burning concerns of someone, by my
compassionate understanding, I receive the
impression of Jesus’ face on the fibres of my soul:
God meets God.
    How often, though, I simply cannot be
bothered with compassion or, worse, I use
apparent compassion to “hook” people into
consoling me.




J  esus, give me a heart open to compassion, but
   closed to clinging and manipulation.
    Give me the grace to let go, to let people live
their lives in freedom.
    And, dear Lord - give me a towel, to wipe your
face.

                         7
              The Seventh Station:
           Jesus falls the second time



S
       ome of these stations may not be scriptural,
       but they certainly reflect the human
       condition, which is probably how they came
to be devised in the first place; for, let’s face it: we
fall, and we fall, and we fall.
      Jesus, the sinless one falls, not out of sin, but
because he is exhausted under the burden of ours.
He can do no more.
      But his fall is an occasion of grace for us. In
falling, he lifts us up.




J   esus, when I fall, let me not become impatient
    and angry with myself, as if it were only my
vanity and pride that were hurt, my precious idea
of my “infinite perfection”.
     Give me the grace to accept the humiliation of
being sinful, of falling often, not, of course, as a
thing deliberately to be sought, but as a necessary
part of my own journey to salvation, towards
standing upright in your presence.

                           8
           The Eighth Station:
  Jesus comforts the women of Jerusalem



Y
       ou might think it should have been the other
       way round – after all, Jesus was the one in
       need of comfort. Or so it seemed.
    But Jesus knows that his lot, terrible though it
was in the eyes of these women, would surely lead
him to glory, as he fulfilled the Father’s will. He
was safe.
    Frail mortals often are not, especially as the
threat of warfare, hunger, domination by a foreign
power, terrorism, and the other graver evils of
spiritual death by sin, hang over them.
    God, in Jesus, is offering to comfort me.
    Am I big enough – and little enough - to
receive it?




J   esus, when I suffer, let me not be like a wild
    animal, that kicks out at others because of
pain.
    If I must cry out, let me cry to you, and, in
your power, offer to others the comfort you are
giving me.

                         9
             The Ninth Station:
         Jesus falls for the third time



A
      s long as we are alive, there is hope for us, no
      matter what we may have done.
           Very often, those who fall constantly,
though weak and shameful, do not, at least, have
that awful pride of the professionally religious, that
sometimes clouds our vision and hardens us
against compassion.
    Jesus is hard on hypocrisy, but never hard on
sheer human weakness and sinfulness.




L   ord, make sure my heart remains supple in
    compassion; and when I am tempted to
condemn, show me my own weakness.

                          10
             The Tenth Station:
      Jesus is stripped of his garments



T
      he things that make someone a hero in youth
      often make him or her an old so-and-so in
      later life.
    All through our lives, we are invited to let go, to
lose out, not to have everything our own way, so
that God may have his way with us.
    To be stripped in this way, without complaint,
takes more than a little grace and humility –
mainly because we have our sacred “principles”
that we cannot bear to alter: the “way things ought
to be” - all those myriad requirements, for which
we quote good authorities, but which nevertheless
block our way to God.
    In the end, spiritual life means being stripped
of what seems essential, so that essential death
may give us life.




J  esus, give me the grace to see what you dearly
   want to strip from me, even my most cherished
ideals.
    Help me to let go, and let God.

                          11
            The Eleventh Station:
          Jesus is nailed to the Cross



I
    t is easy to pass through life, thinking that we
    have embraced Christ, only to find that what
    we took for Christ was yet another idol.
     It is easy either to dismiss the cross altogether,
excusing ourselves with phrases like “God wants us
to live in the joy of the Resurrection” or (at the
opposite pole) to be cruel to ourselves - and others
- on the grounds that God is somehow pleased with
gratuitous suffering.
     We should reflect that it wasn’t Jesus’
sufferings in themselves that saved us – sufferings
that were devised by misguided and sinful men.
We were saved, rather, because, in and through
everything that happened in Jesus’ life, pleasant or
horrendous, he was totally and absolutely
surrendered to the Father’s will.
     And we must be so, too.



J  esus, you have the fire, you have the wood; you
   are the stone for the sacrifice.
     Here I am, O Lord; here is the lamb for the
burnt offering, caught by its horns in the thicket of
sin.
     Help me to want to want to be nailed to your
cross - the true cross - and to shed those false
crosses that do me harm - and are a blessed
nuisance to everyone else!

                          12
             The Twelfth Station:
            Jesus dies on the Cross



T
      he greatest people are those who stick at
      their commitment till they die. They often
      have little to show for it. They are not
usually glamorous. They will not appear in the
newspapers or on the television screen. Married or
single, their commitment to love has taken them as
far as death, often with a fair amount of
misunderstanding, suffering and trial along the
way.
    Yet their love is what makes the world go
round - and, sinners, messed up, and
unpresentable though they may be, through the
cross of Jesus they shall be with Jesus in the
“today” of paradise.




L   ord, these were your great ones.
        We, your least, ask for the grace of
“stickability”.
     In union with you, may we die, and rise
again.

                        13
           The Thirteenth Station:
     Jesus is taken down from the Cross



I
    t was all over. Jesus had offered the full and final
    sacrifice that would never need to be repeated.
    So, when Saint Paul implies that we should “make
up in our bodies what is lacking in the sufferings of
Christ”, he is not contradicting an article of Faith, but
merely telling us that we were there; that in God’s
eternity, our sufferings were already included in
Jesus’ one perfect act of atonement – and that is what
gives them their value; for “cut off from him, we can
do nothing”.
     Now must come that awful, heart-rending
moment, when the disciples and Mary receive that
broken body into their arms. Now must come the
seeming end of all their hopes.
     Why did it have to be this way? We cannot
rightly say. All we know is that, in Jesus, God has
given us, not a magician, who waves his wand and
makes everything beautiful, but a sharing - one who
suffers with us, who brings God into the mess, as our
salvation.


J  esus, I am there beside you, with these holy ones, my
   brothers and sisters.
     Give me a heart open to the tragedy of life; open to all
those situations of bloodshed, violence, and the even more
common bloodless violence of character-destruction and
passive aggression, which seem to leave no opening for
hope.
     Let me know that, as I walk in this valley of the
shadow of death, I need not fear, for even here, you are
with me.
                             14
          The Fourteenth Station:
         Jesus is placed in the Tomb



K
       indly-disposed Joseph of Arimathea
       provides a “tomb with the rich”, a cave that
       will soon see the world’s greatest ever
miracle.
    But for the moment, all is sad, even despairing
– that this man, who had done such good, could
come to such a bad, such an undeserved and
bloody end.
    Here must we “stay and sing”, though.
    Here, we must wait, often for many, many
years, before our own death of sin, and that of
others, is overcome by the power of Christ.




J    esus, I am often in a hurry. I want a “quick
     fix”. I want Resurrection, before I have even
begun to lose myself.
    Give me grace to sit, with the Church, at the
door of your tomb - knowing, believing, trusting,
that you will “Easter in us”, one day…
    and that your angel will roll back the stone
that covers the door of my sinful heart.

                        15
              Final Prayer:




M
           y God,
           I believe that you love me,
           and that you are present
in all the circumstances of my life,
even when, especially when, I cannot feel it.

I believe that
as long as I walk your way of the cross
and do not deliberately stray away from you,
though I may fall,
you will bring good
out of whatever happens to me.

Therefore,
in union with ( Saint …
and ) all my companions on the road,
I make this act of trust and surrender to you,
now, and every day.

Grant that I may go on believing and trusting,
even when I do not see the point,
or understand your purposes in my life.

I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.




                     16

				
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